Underground Railroad | St. Louis Public Radio

Underground Railroad

Glynis Brooks is a Harriet Tubman impersonator based in St. Louis.
EMILY WOODBURY | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

There’s good reason the U.S. Treasury Department selected Harriet Tubman as the new face of its $20 bill. Tubman lived one of the nation’s most remarkable lives. Born into slavery in Maryland, she escaped by making her way to Pennsylvania — on foot. And then she returned, again and again, to rescue family members and other slaves via the Underground Railroad. 

Dr. Richard Eells House in Quincy, Illinois
(Courtesy Arts Quincy)

The Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, was a major stop on the Underground Railroad as slaves attempted to make their way from Missouri to a free state.

Quincy’s role in the Underground Railroad – a network of often secretive locations used to help enslaved people escape to free states and Canada – is highlighted in the events that took place at the home of Dr. Richard Eells and his wife, Jane, during the mid-19th century.

Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey dig at the former 1851 house site of Priscilla Baltimore in Brooklyn, Illinois.
Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

Brooklyn, Ill., is a small, predominantly African-American town, just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis.

What little revenue the town brings in comes mostly from strip clubs. But there’s more to Brooklyn than that.

Archaeologists from the Illinois State Archaeological Survey have been digging for evidence of Brooklyn’s pre-Civil-War past, trying to solve some of the mysteries about its origins.

Exploring The Life Of A For-Hire Abolitionist

Oct 13, 2014
'Ain't No Harm to Kill the Devil' by Jeffrey Copeland
Courtesy of Jeffrey Copeland

Among abolitionists, John Fairfield was unique: He was brutal, not above a shootout; he created elaborate ruses to rescue slaves; and he charged for his work.

Fairfield was born in Virginia to a slave-owning family.

“John, as a very young man, had a very dear friend, one of the younger slaves, he grew up with,” said author Jeffrey Copeland . His book “Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legend of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire,” examines Fairfield’s life.

Nora Ibrahim

On the 159th anniversary of Mary Meachum's attempted crossing of the Mississippi River — from what was at the time the slave state of Missouri to the free state Illinois — St. Louis residents, local groups and officials gathered at the crossing site to announce plans for a permanent monument. For many of those who attended, it marks 15 years of hard work to get the site more widely recognized.